Apple has been awarded a number of new patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week. Two of the patents give Apple a firmer hold on its multitouch and touchpad surface technologies and the iPhone's case design.
An important patent for a touchpad surface titled Force imaging input device and system covers the multitouch trackpad in Apple's more recent notebook computers and--to some degree--the iPhone touch screen.
The abstract from the patent describes a system with multiple layers composed of two sets of drive traces, one layer of sensing traces, and a spring membrane. The layers are arranged over a base and have an outer layer such as plastic or glass that gives the entire assembly a pleasing outward appearance and provides an interactive surface with the outside world.
The invention is credited to Steven Hotelling and Brian Huppi, and could serve as a defense for Apple against any multitouch copycat devices.
The second patent, titled Electronic device, covers the iPhone's case design, and shows how the iPhone is constructed and where the ports are placed on the top and bottom of the phone. Additionally, the patent indicates location and placement of the speakers, switches, buttons, and camera.
The invention is credited to a long list of people. Notable celebs on the list include Apple's lead designer, Jonathan Ive, and the company's CEO, Steve Jobs. This patent could serve to protect the iPhone from look-alike competitors.